Image of a first aid kit.

Whether you’re going into the Boundary Waters for one day or a week, you need to carry a First-Aid Kit. Just as important is knowing how to use what’s in your kit. Though it’s out of our wheelhouse to provide comprehensive information on wilderness first aid on this website, there are no shortages of great resources to consult. A copy of NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Sixth Edition, which is an exhaustive manual on how to treat many of the accidents, injuries and illnesses that arise in the wilderness, should be on everyone’s bookshelf.

We strongly recommend taking a wilderness first-aid course from NOLS or at the very least, closely reading a book on wilderness first-aid before heading out.

We strongly recommend taking a wilderness first-aid course from NOLS or at the very least, closely reading a book on wilderness first-aid before heading out.

That being said, here is what a typical first-aid kit will contain:

Topical

  • Medicaine® Sting + Bite swab
  • Neosporin®/ Triple-Antibiotic ointment
  • Hydrocortisone
  • Aloe
  • Alcohol prep pads

Tools

  • Bandage shears
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Nitrate gloves
  • 12 cc irrigation syringe

Wounds

  • 2×2 gauze pads
  • 4×4 gauze pads
  • Assorted Band-Aids
  • 3” roll of gauze
  • Hydrogel burn pads
  • 1” Athletic tape
  • Duct tape
  • Ace Bandage
  • Moleskin® / Second Skin® or other blister kit

Oral

  • Ibuprofen
  • Tylenol®
  • Benadryl®
  • Chewable antacid tablets
  • Any prescription or non-RX medication you or members of your party may need

Again, this is a list of basic medical supplies. Depending on your group and the length of your trip, you may have much more.

On a final note: No First Aid kit, no matter how complete or substantial, is a substitute for proper training and knowledge! It doesn’t matter how many medications and bandages you carry with you, if you don’t know how to use them, they’re useless. Take a class and get the necessary training so that your First Aid Kit is more than a false sense of security!

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